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The Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) in Malabe will be taken back to the Government cancelling its transaction in 2015, Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.

The Minister said the SLIIT would be operated as a fee-levying Government owned independent institution. Addressing a press conference at the University Grants Commission yesterday, he said a Cabinet paper to this effect was submitted last week and it would be taken up again next week.

he said the Cabinet paper proposed to appoint a ‘Board of Trustees’ composed of two higher officials each from the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office, the Secretaries to the Higher Education Ministry and Education Ministry and about another five members with knowledge on university affairs to take over SLIIT and operate it under an Administrative Board.

He noted that any profit earned by the institution will be diverted to the Mahapola Trust Fund and used to facilitate more scholarships.

“This institute was started in 1999 on a 25 acre state land. It utilised Rs. 373 million from the Mahapola Trust Fund to construct its first building. Currently, there are 7,000 students in it. Initially its ownership was with the Government even though the management was run by a separate company. In 2015, the SLIIT was removed from the Mahapola Trust Fund and handed over to that company.The SLIIT had paid Rs.408 million to the Fund and had inked a new lease agreement for the land where Rs 20 million is paid to the Fund annually as lease. All SLIIT Director Board members were initially government officials, but now there is no single government official in it,” he explained.

He pointed out that Rs. 408 million was no way a reasonable amount as the assets of the University, even when the land value is excluded, amounts to at least Rs 20 billion. “Now there is no rightful owner to this institution. Who will take the responsibility of 7,000 students if it runs to any trouble?” he asked.

He said the above transaction had happened without the knowledge of the Mahapola Trust Fund.

In the meantime, responding to a question by a journalist, the Minister said that it has now been agreed not to charge any fee from the scholarship holders of the SAITM when transferred to the Kothalawala Defence University. He said the other students have to pay money as the KDU is a fee-levying university, but added that this fee is less than two thirds of that of the SAITM fee.

Commenting on IUSF Convener Lahiru Weerasekara’s recent comment asking for an open debate with the Minister, Rajapakshe said, “Lahiru Weerasekara is neither a university student nor a graduate. He is simply a loiterer on the street, a thug and a person who earns by taking other students for a ride. About 1,000 students are forced to leave universities per year because of the ragging of the IUSF. How and why should I debate with such a person?” he queried.

He said the case of ragging where a female undergraduate at the Sabaragamuwa University tried to commit suicide would be referred to the IGP for take legal action against the offenders for the crime of homicide.

(Source: Daily News – By Disna Mudalige)